Written By: Ken Hulsey
Sources: IMDB / Wikipedia / Youtube
Happy Thanksgiving monster movie lovers! I know many of you around this great country of ours are getting ready to stuff your faces until you either puke or pass out. Possibly both! I'm right there with ya, I'm looking through my closet large size shirts and elastic waistband pants as we speak ... hmmm .... maybe I should just wear a moo moo like Homer Simpson did?
Enough of my fashion crisis, it's time to get down to the meat and potatoes before we all get down to the meat and potatoes. It's Turkey Day and I've got alot of info here on two of the biggest turkeys you'll ever lay eyes on. I am of course referring to Gappa (The Triphibian Monster ... um ... Monster From A Prehistoric Planet) and the equally gonzo Giant Claw. Two titanic birds that will only rival the one on your diner table.
On Thanksgiving it's all about choices. Turkey or ham? Stuffing or potatoes? Dark meat or white? Ravens or 49ers? Well here at Monster Island News we want to give you all we can so today I have combined our popular "Monstrous Movie Poster", "Movie Trailer" and "Did You Know" features into one giant monster movie cornucopia (or horn of plenty) for you to devour.
First up is Gappa!
Daikyojū Gappa (大巨獣ガッパ, "Gappa, The Colossal Beast") is a 1967 Kaiju film. The film was produced by Nikkatsu Corporation, and was their only foray into the giant monster genre. The foreign sales title for the film was Gappa: The Triphibian Monster, and was dubbed into English (considered the "International Version"). The film was picked up by American International Pictures and released directly to television in the US under their American International Television banner, and retitled Monster from a Prehistoric Planet. This version was one of many films syndicated to broadcasters nationwide by AIP-TV, and became a staple for Horror Hosts on television stations from San Francisco to New York City from the late 1960s through early 1980s.
Did You Know?
There was an urban legend that Nikkatsu's international English prints originally had a racist line, "The monsters are attacking Tokyo. Fortunately they are attacking the Negro section of town." (and that the line was changed). This was untrue.
This film was intended as a lighthearted satire of the daikaiju films of the period. This is one of the reasons the film has come under criticism by many people and kaiju fans. But some of the satire is lost in translated overseas prints.
The film's special effects were provided by Akira Watanabe, who had worked as an art director on many tokusatsu films such as the 1957 Toho sci-fi classic, The Mysterians.
In the Japanese version, the opening credits and ending were accompanied by a Rock & Roll theme song, "Gappa, The Colossal Beast" (the first and second verses, respectively), and the touching reunion scene near the end had a ballad called "Keep Trying, Baby Gappa!". In all overseas prints, the opening and ending songs were replaced with standard orchestral music, and "Keep Trying, Baby Gappa!" was instrumental.
The adult Gappas had a cameo scene in the British comedy/sci fi series Red Dwarf. In episode 6 of series 4, "Meltdown", Arnold Rimmer and Kryten arrive on a planet they will later discover is a giant Waxdroid theme park. After sending the teleporter they used to arrive back to pick up Lister and The Cat, they are forced to flee by the Gappas. Kryten later comments that he's seen more realistic dinosaurs in packets of Wheatie Flakes.
Your Turkey Of A Trailer!
Ready for seconds? Well loosen your belt some more because here comes The Giant Claw!
The Giant Claw is a 1957 science fiction film about a giant bird that terrorizes the world. Produced by Clover Productions under the working title 'Mark of the Claw' and released through Columbia Pictures, it starred Jeff Morrow and Mara Corday, and was directed by Fred F. Sears. The film has been a staple of the bootleg video market with only two official VHS releases (one in the USA through Goodtimes Home Video and the other through Screamtime in the United Kingdom) to date. Columbia Pictures finally released the film officially to DVD in October 2007 as part of the two disc four film set Icons of Horror Collection - Sam Katzman.
Did You Know?
The poster artists were purportedly not shown the puppet nor any other artwork from the film's production and concluded that the monster was a giant eagle or hawk. Thus, the creature in the posters looks nothing like the beast in the film.
Screenwriter Samuel Newman re-used the character name "Dr. Karol Noyman" (here played by Edgar Barrier) for an entirely different character played by John Carradine in the 1959 film Invisible Invaders, which Newman also wrote.
In an interview, star Jeff Morrow said that neither he nor anyone on the film saw the title "monster" until they went to the film's premiere in Morrow's home town. It turned out that producer Sam Katzman had contracted with a low-budget model-maker in Mexico City to construct the "Giant Claw" and no one in the cast or crew had any idea it would come out looking as bizarre and, frankly, laughable as it did. Morrow said that the audience roared with laughter every time the "monster" made an appearance, and he wound up slinking in embarrassment out of the theater before the film was over so that no one who knew him would recognize him.
The producers originally planned to use a stop-motion model created by Ray Harryhausen for the bird. However, due to budgetary limitations they were forced to use a marionette.
A character in the film mistakes the bird for La Carcagne which is alleged in the film to be a monster from French Canadian folklore that resembles a giant woman with a wolf's head and bat-like black wings and which, like the Banshee, is a harbinger of death.
Yes, boys and girls, the monster in this film is a puppet. I know that throughout the history of monster films, puppets have been used very effectively as a cheap alternative to expensive, and time consuming, stop-motion models. Two examples of this are, "The Land That Time Forgot, and the early, "Godzilla" movies. This puppet, however, was not of that quality. This was actually a marionette that looked like it belonged in a "Punch and Judy" show at a carnival.
If you can stomach it ... here is the trailer.
And now if you haven't passed out from titanic trictifan here are some more posters and photos ... sorry no pumpkin pie though:
With these giant turkeys you will have enough left over for sandwiches for a year ... maybe two!
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